When one grows up in the ‘burbs, you tend to be sheltered from the seedy, murkier parts of life. As I’ve grown older, not only have I seen firsthand those parts of life but I’ve been a part of them a time or two.
We’re all big people here, right? Can you handle a little rawness? I certainly hope so. If not, feel free to click out of this and go find some cute kitten videos on YouTube. Please. No hard feelings if you do.
The sex industry in St. Louis is alive and well, I am happy to report.
I had the pleasure of safely and professionally chauffeuring some lovely women to work at the Gentlemen’s establishments on the East Side.
On more than one occasion, I transported working girls to and from their “date’s” hotel.
They were mostly friendly and polite. And great tippers.
Ya hear that men? Don’t be stingy with the tips for the ladies, because they treat other tipped employees right.
I remember quite vividly one working girl. Fresh-faced. Girl-next-door. Right down to the freckles on her nose. I was picking her up at a hotel and she sort of dropped herself onto the backseat.
Bad night? I asked.
“Stupid Craigslist johns.” Was all she said.
We drove in silence for a while. She asked if she could smoke in the car. Technically we weren’t supposed to let them, but I told her to go ahead and make sure the window was cracked a bit for some fresh air.
Hopefully your next gig will be better. I purposely left the comment open and non-judgmental.
She proceeded to tell me that she had a kid at home with her parents. She had a couple of dates lined up for the next day. She only worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday. She made enough cash (usually) that made a straight job’s paycheck pale. The rest of her week was devoted to her kid.
I admired her for that. Keeping her toddler in diapers and food and a roof over their head. That’s real life, folks. You do what you have to in this world to make it work.
I kidded with her, telling her that her job sounded a lot better than mine, and more fun. But nobody would pay a middle-aged fat guy for that kind of service.
You’re not THAT fat, she chided me. And believe me, I know several women who would pay for a No-Strings night with a funny, clean, non-psycho guy without worrying about her hair, makeup etc.
I laughed and told her I would call her when I decided to switch careers.
But dammit, I never got her number.
A week or so later, I picked up one of my regulars from a dive bar in SoCo. She was a good customer. She was a decent-looking, chubby redhead. Recently broken up. She was whining about the lack of decent men there that night (personally, I wouldn’t look for decent ANYTHING at this bar, but I digress) and how she really needed to get laid.
Then inspiration apparently struck her. She was toasted, but managed to get herself into a forward sitting position (the better to display her cleavage with) and asked:
So how’s your night going? Busy?
I allowed that it was pretty slow.
How much would you charge?
For??? (I’m good at playing dumb)
A drunken grin. “A little fun.”
Have you ever had that hot drop of fear in your stomach? When a little flirt just turned on you and now you had your hands full? Yeah. That was this.
I played it off.
Sweetie, if you are gonna pay for it, you should at least get a young, good-looking guy with six pack abs who can go all night.
Yeah, she said. And he’ll knock me in the head and steal my shit. C’mon. I’ll give you 50.
50. I wasn’t sure if I should be grateful or insulted. But on nights when taxi calls are sparse and you are staring down the end of 12 hours behind the wheel with no money in your pocket, 50 means the difference between making money or being in the red.
I thought about it. Briefly. But my wife might frown on my being a paid sex toy for drunken females. Call it a hunch.
As I walked her to her door (she couldn’t have walked there on her own) I told her no, and that she would thank me for it the next time.
But there were plenty of no/slow business nights that might make a man re-consider.
The next time I drove her, I detected just a little bit of embarrassment. I joked with her just like nothing had happened. Because really nothing did. She seemed relieved. She didn’t thank me verbally, but I’m sure she did in her mind.
One of the last days that I drove, I picked up a stunning dark-skinned young woman in a barely there painted-on mini-dress.
Did I saw stunning? I mean red. frickin’. hot. Hot enough to make even the most die-hard Klansman want to jump ship and hang up the mask.
Sunday afternoon. 2pm. She is still baked from partying all night. I don’t mind. The scenery was nice.
She purred. Baby, how much this ride gonna cost me?
I promised not to charge her a cent more than the meter said.
She hiked up her skirt. “Do you think we can work something out now?”
I told her that she was looking at a 35 or 40 dollar ride. I’d max it at forty, so she didn’t have to worry about it.
She pulled the skirt back down to a more modest range. But modesty in a mini-dress is relative. She was still showing more than most women would be comfortable with.
Thanks baby, she said. Let me give your tip now.
Up from between the seats comes her elegantly curved pinky nail. With an amazingly large pile of cocaine on it.
A fatty bump, just for you baby. And a little extra. Eyes and smile big. A generous dusting of white powder on her exposed chest (probably not accidental).
Now, there’s no bigger fan of hot women than I, but I was fairly sure that taking cocaine from this gorgeous creature was covered in some sub-paragraph of the famous mother admonition of not taking candy from strangers.
I decline politely. Naw, baby. I’m cool. You go ahead and enjoy.
She was shocked. “I only buy the best shit, baby. This is good shit.”
I’m sure it is, baby. You got a good thing going. Enjoy.
So she did. And then her nose started pouring snot. And the emotional trainwreck of her life screeched into the station.
A hell-broth of tears, mucus and makeup quickly converted her face from stone fox to hot mess in a matter of minutes.
I dropped her off at the motel by the airport. You see this motel on the news from time to time.
A beautiful disaster. Staggering on stilettos into a weekly-rate motel. Looking like a bad mugshot come to life.
A fine way to wrap up my cabdriving career.